the ninth hole

In ALL, DATING & MATING by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

Pardon the metaphor.  Really.  I mean golf of all things.  I was married to a golfer; it gave me the shanks.  Still, it’s hard not to note that you’re half way there at the ninth hole, unless you had a different plan, which makes the ninth hole the end of the game.  I have a friend who’s looking to play 18 holes.  He wants to get married.  "We’re at the ninth hole," he said, "where you really need to decide whether you’re going to play through or call it a day."  For some people, they say it takes a year before you really know.  Others say it takes seconds, that you can tell immediately if this is a person you’d spend forever with.  Who cares.  It’s different for everyone.  The point is, at a certain time you get to the place where you’ve got to decide.  You weigh the data you’ve been given.  And that’s what it is, the behavior you witness in someone: it’s DATA.  You can choose to either pay close attention to the information you’re given (through their actions and words), or you can ignore it (put on blinders, turn your head, ignore red flags).  But it’s given to you.  How you process it determines your outcome.

How soon is too soon?  I mean you need some time to actually collect the data.  I’ve always said that you don’t know what someone is really like until the shit comes down.  Some catastrophe, where the truest colors splash about.  "Nah," he says, "I don’t need to wait for that.  I’m already questioning things."  And then I get the scoop.

They’ve been dating five months.  He’s 40, almost 40, splits hairs, has been married once before, a lifetime ago.  He owns a house on Long Island.  He currently doesn’t have a job but has the means to still live comfortably while he searches for the right one.  She’s a trial lawyer, still living at home with her parents, at 36.  If I were a judgmental person, I’d say, "Dude, that’s weird."  But me?  Judgmental?  Come now.  She’s traditional and comes from a large family.  She has no loans to pay off.  She’s saving her money.  She drives a Mercedes, but the lease is up.  "She shops for sensible shoes," he adds, "you know, Steve Madden, so I know she’s not spoiled."  Mmmkay.  "But then the other day, she makes this comment.  She says, ‘I need to marry a man who’ll buy me a Mercedes.’  So I told her, ‘I’m not that man.’"  What the hell is that? he wants to know.  I mean she doesn’t shop like a mad woman now, but is that just the side she shows him?  What if it’s all a ruse, and once they marry, she’ll quit her job and have a gimmie attitude?  The way some women fear The Dirty Eight, he fears this.  He’s frightened her comment was a slip.  "When should you pay attention to actions instead of words?" he wants to know.  "Because she really doesn’t act spoiled or like she has a sense of entitlement, but then she smacks down that line about wanting a man who’ll buy her a Benz."    To his question of "when to pay attention to actions instead of words," I respond, "Not now!"  He’s worried.  And he should be.  No, not because she’s committed all the words to the song gold-digger to memory and has replaced the Destiny’s Child lyrics of "Independent woman" with "Daddy bought it" in lieu of "I’ve bought it." He should worry because they obviously don’t see eye to eye on what makes a partnership. 

I believe some women think this way.  I don’t want to say a lot of women or most women because really who cares how many women?  But some women do.  They saw their fathers as the breadwinners, and the expectation is there for that life to continue when she’s handed off from her father to her fiance (note how similar finance and fiance are?).  As long as she establishes a career and lands herself a husband to support her spending habits, mommy and daddy are fine with footing her bag-cravings, gym membership, and nights out with the girls before she ties the knot.  I don’t want to go there, actually.  That’s not the point.  The point is some women see their fathers buying their mothers cars, affording them a country club lifestyle, and they want the option of having that too.  They want to keep their careers if they’re worth keeping, if they make them feel independent, confident, and happy.  But they don’t want to have to keep them out of necessity.  That’s what the man is for.  That’s what they know.  Is it archaic?  Yes, but she’ll argue "traditional."  It’s learned behavior, spoiled maybe, and I can see that the woman he’s thinking of teeing off with for another 9 holes knows the lesson plan by her pave-set heart.

Let me just say, as we become adults we gain a certain amount of proportion and perspective.  We can clearly see the familial patterns we grew up with, and it’s up to us to sustain them or reject them.  To continue the cycle or work on deprogramming yourself in an effort to make a new, seemingly better, start.  It’s not always easy.  Therapy works nicely sometimes, especially when the couple views their upbringing as "the right way."  Even they know there is no right way, but they figure they turned out okay, so why not perpetuate it?

I’m not entirely innocent of this, either.  Some of us have learned to feel love in money (not only in money–if anyone knows how loving my family is, they can attest to it). It’s what we know of security.  We feel taken care of, that if we lose our jobs or way, there will be someone there to catch us, to loan us some interest-free money with little to no expectation of getting the money back.  And maybe that’s what she’s looking for in her partner.  I know we’re accustomed to thinking it’s wrong, judging it.  Saying that’s not what a partnership is about.  But really, who are we to say?  Maybe she’ll meet a man who wants that role, to take financial responsibility for his family, the way he saw it done growing up.  Maybe that makes him feel good and empowered.  Maybe that’s the right fit.   Maybe not.  Maybe she really is just a gold-digger and can’t wait to marry so she can stop working and decorate their new life with her expensive taste.  Or maybe she’s looking for someone who WANTS what she wants, wants a wife who stays home and decorates.  You know, they do exist, and are all too happy to provide their wife with the lifestyle to which they’ve all grown accustomed.  What do you think?   

Comments

  1. Hmmm interesting situation. Weird that she lives at home at 36 and presumably (unless she works at a shit paying D.A. job)has the means to be independent and support herself. However, nobody is perfect. Perhaps her comment was just a way of saying she wants someone to do something nice for her one day- an unexpected gift so to speak. Maybe she is the type of girl who has not had alot of guys shower her with flowers, suprise weekends in Miami, diamonds on her birthday, etc. However, if you can't be honest enough with your partner to ask "what the heck does THAT mean?", then maybe he shouldn't take it to the next level.

  2. I have to say, this is a hot issue nowadays, with many more women in the workplace, carving out careers for themselves, but also struggling with the pressure to stay home and raise the kids, having to "depend" on their partner. On the flipside, I know women, as described in the blog, who can't wait to get married, and love the idea of being financially comfortable and being able to stay home, while hubby goes out and earns the bacon. While it is so easy to make a snap judgement, and think "is she nuts" or "i could never be like that, I take pride in being able to support my own habits" I think that no one can decide what is right for any particular person or couple…We all grew up in different families with different values, and its important to remind ourselves that it is not only our way that is the right way:)

  3. I grew up extremely poor. I mean welfare poor. My mom went through a string of men who provided for us at times but then always left us without money or anywhere to go. So I can honestly say that I would not want anyone to provide me with the life I knew growing up.

    I worked hard, put myself through school and now I'm a "big city lawyer" with a good salary, a nice condo and a fiance who earns even more than I do. I would like to say that I would be just as happy in my life with him if he swept floors for a living, but I don't really know if that is true.

    Also, I could easily decide to quit my job and make our family my life, but there are two reasons why that would never make me happy: 1) stability is a huge issue to me and no matter how much I love and trust the man I am going to marry, I know how easily life can pull the rug out from beneath you and I would never put myself in a situation where I couldn't catch myself and; 2) I wouldn't feel fulfilled as a wife and mother. It is probably a terrible thing to say, but it is true. Good or bad, my career is part of what defines me as a person and I like it. I could never give that up.

  4. Why can't he just ask her what she meant and then dig into the answer a little bit? Use her comment as a way to ask "how do you think a marriage should work?"

    All that aside, assuming the worst of her, being a relatively independent professional with a savings account, a car lease, and a full-time job in the law sends a message that you are not just looking to be a housewife. If you are just biding time until you become a housewife, you should make that a lot clearer to your prospective mate than just dropping a comment about buying you a car. Otherwise it's false advertising.

    And the comment itself is gross. "I want to be taken care of" or "I want a man who is the breadwinner so I can focus on the family" are less disgusting messages. Who says we shouldn't judge?

  5. I grew up with a Mother that made me uncomfortable accepting anything from anyone. I mean we're talking about feeling uncomfortable accepting a ride home here. I think it was all in the name of being polite, really. I kind of resent that and at the same time it has made me really independent. I'm still learning how to let my partner do nice things for me without feeling guilty. I'm still learning to accept the fact that if he makes more $$$ than me, he should pay more of our bills. I'm starting to like the fact that he wants to be the bread winner. It's a slooooow burn though. My philosophy: do what works for you.

  6. I'm agreeing with the first poster. If he can't ask her what it means then it's not the right time yet. That shite hasn't hit the fan yet. Maybe it's about to. True colors and all.

    I think you have to strip yourself down to your vulnerable self and then see if your partner is standing there being vulnerably and honest too or just gawking at you. I think they are still in the gawking stage.

  7. I used to fear that I'm one of the ones who's looking forward a little too much to the day my fiance (husband in 8 days!) finishes his Ph.D. and gets a cushy academic or industry job. But it's primarily because I am lusting after having one of those orgasm-inducing kitchens, with the Viking stainless steel *everything.* Media relations pays all right, but not that all right.

    You're right about fathers and fiances — I saw my dad as the breadwinner for the majority of my childhood. My mom gave up a promising career in school board arbitration to raise the three of us, not going back to work until I was almost done with high school, and even then, she became a teacher (I love teachers; please don't yell. But she was making peanuts compared to what she was making in her first career). Then she quit, most likely because my dad subtly encouraged her to and I suspect she was looking for a reason to quit. He's the kind of man who would never let us look at the restaurant tab, who'd get annoyed if we asked if something were too expensive (if it was, he never told us. Guy pride, I guess).

    He told me exactly one time how much his base salary was. He had been drinking martinis and watching old Star Trek episodes. I guess it was as good a time as ever to disclose something like that.

    I want to stay at home with my future children for a while. Maybe 10 years, maybe more. I appreciate what I was lucky enough to have gotten as a child. No amount of money can buy it, that kind of one-on-one attention.

    But I've learned from my parents. I am committed to being partners, making my own money, doing things equally (or at least proportionately. He makes more money than me, and probably always will). It's why I worked for eight straight hours after work yesterday on freelance writing — to pay for my half of the honeymoon.

    A Mercedes as a surprise (or coerced surprise, in her case) gift, like those Lexuses in the ads that make me think, "who the hell buys another person a car as a gift"? Probably feels pretty good. But how I'll feel when I'm lounging on the Caribbean in mere days, knowing I earned it? A lot damn better.

  8. The great thing about life is that we can all make choices and it sounds to me as though these two people are not compatible in the way they think about finances. I'm certain there's someone out there for each of them and she definitely has the right to hold out for what she wants. To me, that's what "feminism" means: being able to do what works for you without fear of ridicule.

  9. I think there are definitely some men out there who want a wife who will just be their wife. Although, in my mind, these are the same men who want an "easy" relationship – they call the shots, the woman goes along for the ride. They don't want a partner, they want an accessory. I know people like this, and when they find the right person, it works very well for them.

    I could never have this kind of relationship, I have a brain and a big mouth and I need to be heard by someone who respects my opinion as much as their own. It's never been about money for me, it's about respect. My boyfriend is an artist (with a masters degree). While this might pay about as much as sweeping floors, it's not even close to the same thing. I couldn't love a man who swept floors for a living.

    I'm sure this is a product of how I was raised. My mother was always very independent, and I'm lucky she was. When my father had to quit his job because of an illness, she was able to pick up the financial slack and provide for us, just like he did for the first 20 years of their marriage. If my mother was a different person, we would have wound up on welfare. The lesson here: women aren't the only ones who might need catching. Life can pull the rug out from under a man just as quickly.

  10. First, I'll echo the above commentors who point out that he should ask what she meant. It seems to be that such a discussion would give him a much clearer idea of whether to play the remaining 9 holes.

    My take on the "buy me a Mercedes" comment is that it was a veiled warning that he should find employment sooner rather than later. You say he's able to support himself well, but does she know the details of his situation?

    Either way, it seems to me that they're overdue for a Conversation.

  11. I've talked about this issue with my therapist, who posits that most (and she says *most,* and says there have been studies done) woman want to know that their partner could provide for them to stay home with their children if necessary. That there's a deep, ingrained need to feel that it is possible to be with our children full-time, even if we don't choose to do so. Among my women friends — all of whom have careers — this seems to be true, though none of them have yet been able, or wanted, to do this.

  12. Wow! It's so nice to see that someone else goes through the same things I go through. This is the current 'fight' that my boyfriend and I have all the time. I'm 25, own my own house (that Daddy didn't pitch in a penny for), own my own car, have a stable job. However, I see the woman's view. Even though my mother worked, my father always provided. And even though I know that I make more money that my boyfriend currently, I always encourage him to get the best job he can have in order to support us (if we turn into an 'us' someday). I think it's scary for women to be truly independent. I like being independent on my own. But, if I know that I will be sharing a household with someone, I want to revert back to the lifestyle of the 1950s. Is this wrong? I don't know. But I do know that my boyfriend and I are struggling with this same issue, and it's nice to know it's being discussed in other relationships as well.

  13. I think that every woman just loves a dream and a surprise. Who wouldn't say "I want to win the lottery!"? But do we EXPECT to win the lottery? Probably not, or we'd all go broke waiting. Does this girl EXPECT to get a Benz from out of the blue, or is she just talking about fanciful dreams? If she's just talking about a fanciful dream in casual conversation, I would think that this is a big non-issue and that the guy is just overreacting. It's better to get these things out in the open upfront.. the more he questions her integrity, the more he creates a big deal out of what could be really just a comment in passing.

  14. Unfortunately life isn't neat and pretty and all wrapped up in a bow…I learned the hard way. My childhood was picture perfect. Mom stayed home and had fresh baked cookies for us after school, and Dad worked hard and took care of us. That was the life I wanted as a woman, staying home with the kids, being a good wife and mother. My Dad's favorite line to his girls was "never depend on a man". Instead of really taking that to heart I just looked at my mom and thought "why not? it's sure working for her". Anyway, I got married and was on my way to having everything I "planned" for, when reality slapped me in the face. A disabilty caused my husband to no longer be able to work and I was left in tears and terrified. Needless to say my Dad's words were ringing in my ears. I was so ashamed that I could not support my family. It's been a LONG road but I finished college and can now support my children and husband almost as well as my husband did before his disability. The thing that I am most proud of is that my daughter saw how hard I worked, and knows how important it is to be able to take care of yourself! She will not make the mistake I made.

  15. Wow. If I was 36, driving a Mercedes and living at my parents home, I'd feel like I was taking advantage of them for free rent so I could have a nice car. But maybe she helps them with the mortgage or something… unlikely though, since she wants someone to BUY her a 'Benz.

  16. hmm…I don't want to come across "dissing" any of my fellow Klein readers, but WTF? We could give this woman the benefit of the doubt and maybe she was just trying to say that she wants a man that could afford to buy her a Benz, not necesarrily buy her one, but someone with the job and the ability to. I'm doubtful of it, but it's worth the comment.

    Although I have to add that I really feel that people who never live on there own, really haven't figured out who they are yet and will have a harder time with life in general once they leave the nest, thus a more difficult marriage??

  17. So, your friend sees the Mercedes comment as a red-flag, but not that the fact that a gainfully employed 36-year-old woman is living with her parents? Her saying that she wants her future husband to buy her a fancy car is more upsetting than the fact that this woman is hoarding all her money away for g-d-knows-what while eating the groceries that her mother buys? That she doesn't see fit to spend her precious paycheck on something as trivial as rent for her own place?

    I would tell your friend that every woman hopes her future husband will buy a Mercedes (or BMW or whatever) whether or not they'll admit. Her living at home is the red-flag here and shows either a fear of growing up or a huge sense of entitlement or something else that I can't even imagine. (Assuming there is no extenuating circumstance that we don't know abt, like one of the parents is disabled or something.)

    I'm not saying your friend shouldn't marry her. People do a lot worse things than live at home until age 36. I just think he's freaking out about the wrong thing, that's all.

    PS i'm a first time commenter, long time reader, love your blog & book!!!

  18. I got creeped out by the 36 and living with her parents thing. No matter how many excuses someone throws at me, I'll never understand that and I'll always think there is something really fundamentally wrong with you. I'm 32 and know a few people in this situation and they are all fucked up. They claim they're the smart ones, saving for a house, driving a Lexus…but I wouldn't have traded my person freedom and maturity through life experience for a mansion (which they've yet to buy) and/or a Lexus…

    At 22, I lived like Three's Company in an apt with two guys I didn't even like vs going home to my parents house after college. I made 23k a year & drove a Saturn. If I could do it, anyone can…

    Hell. No.

    And if your friend really was into her and wanted to know what that all meant with the comment, he'd grow a sac and ask her outright. He's obviously Just Not That Into Her and is looking for reasons to get out.

  19. Growing up I always thought I wanted a career and the ability to take care of myself. "I don't need any man to take care of me." That being said, now that I am a wife and and a stay at home mother. I love it. I love the feeling of being taken care of. I find him sexy for being the provider. Call me Old Fashioned or whatever you want, but it's all about choices. I think that is what Femminism is, the choice to be able to decide what is right for you and your family, and not have it dictated to you by society. While this choice is right for me, I don't look down on anybody else for making a different choice. If she wants to be the homemaker then she needs to find a husband who wants to be the breadwinner. Just my two cents.

  20. Maybe it was a non-too-subtle hint at him as in "I'd like a man who has a job and could potentially buy me a Benz, but the entire five months we've dated, you haven't found a job and have been coasting on a limited nest egg and that concerns me (because I realize how it looks that I'm 36 and living at home when I clearly can support myself and to some that's a mega red flag) and I'm afraid to really nag you because we've only been dating five months and why would I stop being selective now?" Or something like that.

  21. If he's self sufficient and living a life not on ramen pride what right does she have to have any issue with it? How does it affect her at all? And the woman that say "i'm old fashion" are using it as an excuse. You don't grow up with the goal of someone else doig for you what you cannot do for yourself. That is lazy, inappropriate and sad. Have pride in yourself. Have goals to make something of yourself and not to scrunge a life off of someone else as your life's ambition.

  22. Wow… that's tough. We morph so much over the years and come to realize what we said we 'wanted' as far as material possessions go in our youth is really just the only way we have to express our values and beliefs. I grew up in a traditional, blue-collar family. Truly believing I too would grow up to get married, have kids, and stay-at-home all by the time I was 23. Thankfully, life had different plans for me but it sure was hard trying to find my way. I went to college late, worked through it to pay for it (0n my own…living w/ my parents who thankfully, let me find my way… but didn't fund it) I always wanted to be a SAHM because that's how I believed it should be done. I learned along the way though how to take care of myself, I had a career, paid my own bills, my own apartment, my own independence, yet often joked that since I had invested so much in myself that now I wouldn't settle for just anybody. I also joked that the older I got, the bigger the ring would have to be if I ever got engaged. When I FINALLY met my future husband I pretty much knew within the first 6 months whether or not I was wasting my time. We were engaged a year later and married 6 months after that. 9 years and three kids later here we are. I was 3 weeks shy of my 35th birthday, 37 when I had my oldest, 40 when I had my twins. Yes, I'm a SAHM, like my mother, however, I also have the role that traditionally belonged to my father. Though my hubby brings home the money, he can't be bothered with where it goes. I take care of the financial health of this house along with EVERYTHING else; right down to clipping fingernails and cleaning ears. I worry more about what would happen if I were to die than if my husband were to go. I think he'd be lost. Boy, how times change!
    OK, all the blog-hog just to say that it's hard to predict how it will go and I just really think as long as a couple has some common, fundamental beliefs and values in common, everything else will somehow work out. Is it easy? No. But I don't find it that hard either. Oh, as far as dealing with tragedy or hardship, one never knows what will happen until presented with the test. Should a couple make it through, it only makes their bond tighter. It's all about give and take at just the right times.

  23. When I was much younger, in my teens, maybe earlier, my mom said something that really stuck with me. "It takes three years to really *know* someone [for their true colors to show]." I'm sure I rolled my eyes or thought "whatever" at the time, but so far it's held true for both friends and relationships.

    I seem to be in the minority, but I couldn't imagine getting married after 5 months or even one year of knowing someone. Because you don't really *know* them and it's generally been fun-n-games up to that point. Sounds like your friend doesn't truly know this woman — since he is questioning what she meant by her comment about the Benz.

  24. Colleen's right, we change so much. I married at 22 and 9 years later, I'm still very happily married. No kids, by choice (I'm finishing my PhD in English Lit this summer). We are definitely not the same people we were 9 years ago, but we still share the same dreams, life goals/hopes, and that passion we had when we first met.

    So if the lawyer wants the mid-20th century stereotypical life, she needs to convey that to your friend. If their dreams match–I wish them the best!

  25. So the lease is up on her car and she's dating a guy who has the means to live comfortably while being between positions. And she says "she needs to marry a man who will buy her a Mercedes." Was this a hint that she wants HIM to buy her next car for her? Maybe she doesn't make a whole lot of cash – thus, the Steve Madden shoes – and her leased Mercedes is the one luxury she truly wants. I think it's hard to say "gold-digger" and "sensible shoes" in the same sentence in describing someone. I also think true gold-diggers look like they fit in with the crowd who can afford them. They blend in and make you think they can afford it all themselves but then they hook the guy with all the cash and surprise them with the fact that they have nothing except really expensive taste.

  26. Oh, don't get me started!

    He needs to dump this girl – she sounds more like 16 than 26. If I had gone through all of that education to make myself a trial lawyer, I'd buy my own damn Benz if that's all I wanted out of life. And living at home still? I'm sorry, this isn't good marriage material. The only good think I can say is that at least she's showing him her true colors. I cannot imagine how stupid you'd have to be to say "I need to marry a man who'll buy me a Mercedes" to a man, even if you were kidding.

    Speaking as a 41 year old, I am a firm believer in being able to make your own living…..forever. I know many women who were going to school and starting careers, only to drop it all like a hot potato when they got married. They have absolutely no way to support themselves now. I could not handle being on someone's payroll like that. If I want to buy something (within reason financially) the last thing I want is to ask permission, like I'm 16 again.

    Let me back up a bit. Part of the reason for my opinion has to do with the circumstances of my husband's life. His father died at age 43 of a heart attack, leaving his 38 year old mother a widow with a young son. That scares the heck out of me, and every day, I think about being able to provide for my girls if something like that were to happen for me. Of course we have life insurance, but you still have to have some sort of way to support yourself that doesn't involve becoming a stripper. I mean, that situation would be horrendous enough emotionally, but to have to worry about money on top of it??

    I think for most men, deep down, they resent it when they are the sole breadwinner. They may enjoy looking like a big shot for a while, but as the wife goes off shopping and they deal with the stresses of providing for a family, most of them can get resentful. I won't go so far as to say every man feels this way, but I'd bet the farm that a lot do unless they're multi-millionaires.

    Trust me, if he marries this girl, she'll quit her job when they return from the honeymoon. And if that is going to bother him, he should be honest and bolt now while he has the chance. But he should have a talk with her beforehand. It's important that she know what turned him off.

  27. As someone who's in her late 30s, single, and a lawyer, I find the attitude exhibited by the 36 yr old horrifying… but at the same time, I understand where she's coming from. Work is hard! A lot of lawyers would like to quit their jobs if they had the opportunity! Having said that, if the woman wasn't joking or even semi-joking when she said it, the remark does seem to reflect a spoiled princess attitude… if he doesn't want to be the sole breadwinner (and one who earns enough dough to buy a MB), then perhaps he'd better quit the course.

    Without asking her, he'll never know exactly what she meant though – and whether she was in her own indirect way, trying to determine if he would ever get another job again too.

    And I agree with those comments that as much as it would be nice to have the fairy tale of the prince who has or makes enough that you don't have to work, I am not sure that I'd like to have to depend on someone else to buy me my car, clothes, or shoes.

  28. I agree with the general opinion that those two need to chitchat… But also I can see the Girl's point of view, she's not talking about a lifestyle that need to be maintained, shoes she MUST have, she's talking about a car, a car! A Mercedes by general consensus last a while,it's not a Hyundai. I mean what if this conversation where reversed and the guy said, you know to fufill me, I am gonna need a blow job three times a week, and I am going to need you to remain 104 pounds and cook every meal, everyday etc etc… non-negotiable…

    Now the reality is that I know just as many men with those expectations as woman who want a wallet full of charge cards that they don't pay, and the big house with the perks that they are just stewarding. It's a hell of a lot more common to find starter wives than starter husbands. What I DO NOT understand, is if this guy puts this much worry into the fact that he is thinking of a lifetime with this lady. Why, and I mean a huge why, wouldn't he talk about what he wants out of the future? Why wouldn't he detail what he is willing to give… The state of marriage is so depressing, instead of building a life together and sharing both the fortune and the misfortunes of life. It seems so many couples are entering marriage as a sketchy merger for a couple of years, to fufill society's excpectation's and what they can get out of it. I've worked hard all of my life, and I make my own living and provide my own luxury car and my own 500 dollar shoes. But I'll be goddamned if I will be ashamed for asking- no, demanding the ROCK OF GIBRALTAR when the question of marriage came up. The way I look at it, it's a down payment for my life of mother, drycleaner, waitress/cook/hostess, maid, therapist, prostitute, investment banker, multi tasker. And also to make up for all of the holidays and celebrations that he WILL and HAS fucked up or forgotten for the next —– years.

  29. Thanks to everyone for all the insightful responses. I am the 40 year old boyfriend referenced in Stephanie's post. When I first spoke the Stephanie about this 'incident', I was looking for a bit of advice from the female perspective. Many of your responses reflected things that Stephanie suggested. Having been married once before, at 25 then divorced at 36, I am going to be careful the second time around, very careful. And unfortunately for my potential second wife, I am carrying the scars of my first marriage.

    My first wife was a PhD student when I married her in 1993. An innocent virgin who still lived with her parents at the age of 24. I supported her throughout her PhD, and then during her post-doctorate. Eventually she got a job in the defense industry, a very successful position in fact. But due to the relative disparity in industries, I made significantly more than her.

    Fast forward to January of 2005, when the sheriff rings my doorbell to serve me with divorce papers. I didn't cheat on her. I didn't beat her. I worked a lot. I was an investment banker. She claimed I emotionally abandoned her. In court, this allowed her to take 50% of everything. That is the law and she took advantage of it.

    So fast forward again to my current relationship, and you can understand why the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear my girlfriend say "I want a man who'll buy me a Mercedes". After all, we've been together five months, and I've been analyzing her every move and every word, trying to figure out if a future exists for us. Perhaps it is too soon to make that judgment. According to one of the comments, it will take me three years to really learn her true character. My goodness.

    I think I will take the advice given by several of you, who suggested I polish up the brass balls and ask her what she meant by that statement. Of course, putting her on the spot will allow her to spin her way out of what she may have truly meant at that moment, but at least my disappointment will register with her.

    After going through one long and painful divorce, I've realized that love has nothing to do with money. If you're in love with the right person, and you are truly a team, you could live in a cardboard box and be happy. Society puts so many parameters on love. A diamond ring, a shower, a country club reception with 400 of your closest friends. It's all so meaningless unless you and your partner share a common vision and a common goal, and the willingness to support each other through trying times. Unfortunately, at this point, my vision does not contain a new Mercedes.

  30. OK Bee…LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL "But I'll be goddamned if I will be ashamed for asking- no, demanding the ROCK OF GIBRALTAR when the question of marriage came up. The way I look at it, it's a down payment for my life of mother, drycleaner, waitress/cook/hostess, maid, therapist, prostitute, investment banker, multi tasker. And also to make up for all of the holidays and celebrations that he WILL and HAS fucked up or forgotten for the next —– years." Are you married?? If not, you have NO idea how T.R.U.E. that hysterical statement is. That's the thing, a sense of humor is critical
    Peter… that is certainly a story that would leave me blindsided and cautious. I have no idea who you are but I suddenly got the "hey, I know someone!!!" thing in my head. She's 30-something, lives in NYC, A Dr. who has her own practice, pretty, completely down-to-earth, doesn't live w/ her parents and an all-around great person. (cough, cough, as if you need a cyber fix up :) OK, I'm off… just saying though… you know, if things don't work out… :)

  31. IMO, I think five months is a long time to not know that much about each other. In my past, I would have had "The Talk" about relationship expectations a looooong time before that!

    At 36 and 40, these two can't afford to waffle around "what ifs" and "WTFs?" if they're wanting something more.

    It's o.k. to want what you want.

  32. Hi, peter.
    Here's my take:

    1- I wouldnt fret and analyze over something she might have been stating to gage your reaction
    (women do love drama- *stereotypes*), or to just bust your balls. Dont forget, women say stupid shit sometimes just like men. More importantly, you obviously dont know her well enough to even consider marriage if you're unable to determine what she would mean by saying something like that. Not to mention, she obviously doesnt know you well enough for marriage if she's not even sensitive enough to realize saying something like that is going to set off alarms in your head b/c of your past.

    2- Im with others. Why is she still living at home at 36? I know with some it's just their culture but come on…

    3- Never trust an attorney.

    okay, I was kidding about 3, well, kinda…

  33. good luck to you Peter! It appears that you're prepared for the worst possible answer to your question, but that doesn't make the asking any easier. Last year, I forced myself to do something similar and faced the fact that I was in a relationship with a man who turned out to be all style and no substance – – – perhaps he should be introduced to your friend.

  34. To Tricia-
    Wow, if I could be half the woman you are, I will be A-OK. Kudos on digging in and getting the job done. I know it must have been a long, hard road but you are quite an inspiration to your children and to me, a total stranger.

  35. I can't say what is a right or wrong time to meet people, or when a person is ready for a relationship…

    Peter, if papers were filed in 2005, given your description, I'd say your divorce was finalized last year? And by your description, the divorce was a shock (although in hindsight you probably now see the warning signs you didn't see before), might this be a little too soon to be looking for another wife?

    Give those scars a chance to really heal sweet Peter, and give your next relationship a solid healthy chance not based on fear, but abundance.

  36. Thanks to Peter for chiming in!

    I once made the same joke, and the person who loved me was 100% certain that I wasn't serious when I said, "I want a man who gives me a Mercedes with a big red bow on it". He went out and bought a little model car from the toy store and put a red bow on it. He's long gone, but I still have the car and it's still wearing a bow.

    Peter, maybe you should try this and see how she responds. If she laughs, great. If she laughs and says she still wants the big one, run :)

  37. If he has to question what she meant by that statement, then clearly he doesn't know her well enough and marriage anytime soon is a bad idea.

  38. Peter,

    Wow, that takes guts to come on this board and share a post like that. Kudos to you for that.

    My marriage was similar to yours in that my husband helped put me through law school and then our incomes became very disparate with mine being substantially more than his. He ended up taking on the traditionally "wifely" duties while I worked worked days, nights & weekends in a securities and m&a practice. We both emotionally abandoned each other and 10 years in was too late for us to go back and change the separate paths we had taken. I can't say I regret what happened because I wouldn't be the woman I am today had I not gone through all of that but I recognize the loss of so much and I was an equal participant in makeing that loss a reality. Our divorce has been final for a year and a half and I'm still not ready for a new relationship because I don't want to make the same mistakes again. I'm also trying to figure out how to be successful in my career and have a life. ha, right

    From your last paragraph, you have learned a lot about relationships and what you are looking for in one. I have to say that if you are analyzing everying Miss Mercedes is doing, there must not be a true connection between the two of you. If she's the right one, you will be head over heels in love with her and you won't analyze a thing. Because you know first hand how important a common goal, common vision and support for one another is, you will make your second wife very happy and respected. I wish you all the best.

    Beth Ann

  39. Peter,

    I'm glad you posted. I'm sorry for my rude comment earlier. I think the fact that her comment is so unsettling for you reveals that there may be other aspects of this relationship that you already question as well (independent of your personal relationship history.) Maybe this relationship is already too much work?

  40. Length of a relationship matters less and less the older you get IMO. I was with a guy from 20-26 that was totally wrong for me, but I wanted to marry him anyway. But, it NEVER felt quite "right". I was just young and stupid and thought if we just got married everyone would get better. It didn't work out. He cheated. Shocker. Six years of a total waste of time.

    My husband dated his ex-wife for 6 yrs before they got married. They were married 1.5 yrs, no one cheated, no one emotionally abandoned, she just was too young, still connected to mommy by the cord, and his parents thought she was uptight. She took A LOT of his money & he said he was never going to get married again. Ever.

    I met my husband at 30.5 yrs old. I was married to him a year later. It felt 100% right from the first week we met. When you know, you know. No matter how you've been burned.

  41. Hi Stephanie and Peter,

    Coming from a woman who put her husband through law school, and then was a stay-at-home mom for many years (with a mercedes), and then divorced and am now a single, hard-working mom – I just couldn't resist a quick comment.

    Peter – it's too soon. I agree with the commenter above…you've gotta heal from your divorce before you can do anything relationship-wise. Period. My ex jumped from our marriage into another – since divorced – and is cycling through girlfriends faster than a revolving door on crack. All the while, he's trying to find the salve to heal the wounds from being divorced, but is never looking to find the cause of the wound in the first place.

    Talk to a professional – work on yourself – develop hobbies that fascinate you – focus on making yourself whole and comfy. I cannot, in all fairness, say that love will then find you. But I can say, from my experience, that when you love yourself, you don't need a relationship so badly.

    Best of luck to you.

  42. Peter,
    What are you looking for in a partner? Are you looking for a (traditional) wife and mother for your children? (In which case you probably will need to plan your life to accomodate someone whose emotional and financial needs you can support.) Are you looking for an equal partner for your domestic life? (Only lawyers can truly understand other lawyers. Law school either corrupts or clarifies how you see the world, depending on who you're talking to.) Are you looking for someone who can do all of it? I think you should follow the advice of the other posters and chill out on moving forward with the marriage until you're sure about what you want and need and are more sure that she'll provide it. It seems like you're deciding whether this current woman is right for you more relative to your past relationship rather than what you need and want in the future. That said, you can be sure of all of that and she can still screw you over. You can't insure against that. You can only hedge your bets and hope for the best. And until you're comfortable and at peace putting that kind of faith into the relationship, you're probably not ready to get married again.

  43. Also, important is:
    Does she make his heart beat faster?
    And is she crazy mad for him?

  44. A man I was once with told me that one of the things he loved about me was the fact that I was a women who would always work, that I didn’t expect someone man to take care of me. I immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach after he said that. I thought, what if one day I just completely unravel and am unable to take care of myself? Would he love me less, than?
    The right thing would have been for me to ask him to expand on his comment and to also let him know how I felt. I was young and dumb and kept my mouth shut. I ignored the "red-flag" and I married him. He turned out to be my ex-husband.

  45. Interesting. She needs to stand on her own two feet, buy her own damn car, and move out and be an adult. HOWEVER, perhaps her Benz comment was truly a passive/agressive Pattyism that meant "You better get a job and contribute or support me." Either way, this couple isn't communicating. Both exhibit the inability to grow up and make their own way. Weak.

  46. The action is that she got a mercedes LEASE and she's not 24. With that kind of judgement, this man is in a world of hurt.

  47. I am going through my own "holy crap, what do I do now?" stage, so i will not judge. My parents divorced when I was 4, and my dad went on his merry way with his new girlfiend, who became his wife (and they had another child…). Bitter? Hell yes, in the past. Now? Funny thing: best thing my dad could have done. My stepmother is one of my best friends now (even though my dad is still a mindless fool most of the time). The point? My parents divorce messed me up, but i survived. Further point? You can't always blame your past for your current fuckups.
    All that being said: Peter, this girl isn't the one for you for the follwoing reasons: 1. too soon for you to get serious. 2. she sounds like a twit 3. you think too much already about the little shit (big sign); i mean REALLY, what man, 5 months into a relationship, is paying that much attention to the type of shoes the chick is wearing?

    As for issues of $….I've wondered about your finanaical life Stephanie. Wealthy upbringing? Parents pay for your schooling, your apartments, etc.? Before the book, did you make a lot of money on your own? I would assume so, per the life you descirbed in NYC (but i also know many women how live that "NYC" lifestyle and do it "in secret debt"); and now, with the kids, and the new life in Austin, and being married again, changes galore, huh?. You did mention in one of your "sad/death" posts recently that if something happened, you couldn't afford "this life" on your own. Sad fact of the matter, money does matter. It can ruin the best of times…

    Life is a total crap shoot. You basically have to feel your way through, almost blind. The bumps in the dark are what make you the person you are…Sadly, I though i knew so much about life at 25…and here i am at 35, and realize how much I DON'T know at all. Such is life.

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